Friday, December 24, 2004

A very Merry Christmas from David and and his shy, retiring new bride. Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Season's Beatings

This isn't at all seasonal, but at work this morning somebody with a strange accent in the next pod used the word "summarised" and I heard it as "Samuraised." It took me back to my martial arts days...

I took up Shotokan karate in my early thirties because somebody told me it was a good way of keeping fit and I was bored with just running and going to the gym. At the time I was working out at least three times a week and running a lot (maybe twenty miles a week) so I thought I was in pretty good shape, but after my first session of karate training I had blisters on my feet and was so tired I went outside and threw up.

I persevered, though, and over the next while my feet hardened up, my stamina and coordination improved, and at one point I was 180lbs of solid muscle, as opposed to "before" (150lbs of ribs and teeth), and "now" (200lbs of lard). I reached 4th kyu - to put it in perspective the first grade (where you swap the white belt that came with the pyjamas for a red one) is 9th kyu, and if I'd continued, my next grade, 3rd kyu, would have been brown belt. Shotokan is a traditional style of karate, which means there's a lot of emphasis on set-piece attack and defence stuff and kata. It's not a full-contact discipline, but it's tough enough, and over the years I managed to pick up plenty of bruises, a few cuts, a broken toe and cracked ribs, and a back problem when someone unexpectedly kicked me so hard it lifted me off my feet and landed me heavily on my arse. You should have seen the other guy. He was laughing like a drain, as was every other rotten bastard in the dojo. Overall, as a way of getting physically fit I think it was second to none - in terms of self-defence the story's a little different. Of course if nothing else you get to learn some Japanese, which is useful in case you ever get the crap beaten out of you while you're on holiday in Tokyo, because you'll be able to tell the police what they did to you. "Well, officer, I think it was probably a kizama-zuki that broke my nose, and it was definitely a mawashi-geri that knocked me out."

Some of my conclusions on the subject of self-defence and street violence are as follows:

- You can get used to being hit. People laugh when I tell them this, but I think it's the most important thing I learnt. The first time someone hits you hard it shocks you, but when it happens to you a couple of times a week, although it still hurts, you don't just hop about with your hand over your eye going "Ow!", you decide to check it out later and start thinking about how you stop it happening again (which usually involves hitting your opponent as hard as possible.) In a real fight situation it's quite likely that you'll be taken by surprise and have to take a punch, but if you can survive the first one you have a chance to stop the second. Of course if there are knives, guns or blunt objects involved it's a different story; on balance I think it's undesirable that you try to get used to being stabbed, shot or beaten with a baseball bat, and if you ever get to actually like it, then you're just weird. Each to his own, of course.

- "The bigger they are the harder they fall."? No, the bigger they are the harder they hit. They also have long legs which they can use to kick you up in the air from a distance (see paragraph three). My strategy for dealing with big opponents in the dojo was to get in close so their longer reach wasn't such an advantage (point one, "getting used to being hit" tended to come into play quite a lot when using this approach, but I was never able to think of anything else.) In a street situation the best strategies are probably running away and outnumbering, if practical. Faking a heart attack may well prove effective, but you'll probably get your wallet stolen while you're concentrating on being still and blue.

- If there's more than one attacker you're probably a goner, unless you're carrying a sidearm. Two-to-one is bad. Three-to-one means you're definitely going to get a beating. Trying to be their friend, giving them all your money and starting to cry are all worth trying if the old standby of running away isn't practical. You could also offer one or more blowjobs; not an attractive proposition if you're a straight male, I'll grant you, but I say if it saves you from a pounding then get on your knees, boy. Get some mouthwash, gargle and get over it. It'll probably make you appreciate your girlfriend all the more, although she may not want to kiss you for a day or two. It might be as well not to tell her about it. If they're not impressed with your pretty mouth and you have to fight, rather than trying anything complcated try and get hold of a brittle part of one of your attackers and break it. Try to stay on your feet; if you end up on the ground curled up in a ball they may well keep on kicking until they get bored, and that could be a long time in Redhill, where people aren't that bright and there isn't much else to do after the pubs have shut.

- Unless you're a Mean Motherfucker you'll always be at a HUGE disadvantage when it comes to street violence. Always always. They want to hurt you and you don't really want to hurt them back. There's absolutely nothing you can do about this except be aware of it as a fact. Stay away from public places where you know people like to hurt other people. Seems quite simple, really. If you have to go to those places and you have a sports bag stencilled with the words "Seishinkai Karate - Striking Cobra Dojo", leave it in the car - the fastest gun syndrome didn't die with Doc Holliday. If you think you're likely to get drunk and go up to complete strangers and challenge them to hit you in the stomach as hard as they can, then I don't want to go drinking with you. I've seen it and it can only end one way.

- And finally, although I'm prepared to consider alternatives, in my opinion there is no doubt that the scariest words in the English language, especially delivered in a quiet voice, are "Are you calling me a liar, pal?"

Merry Christmas...

I've just realised that it's nearly a month since I posted anything on here (and that was a short and slightly depressing poem). I've been busy at work and my free time has been taken up with things which are time-consuming but not necessarily interesting to write about, and I'm reluctant to post stuff about not having anything to say. Although I seem to be doing it now. Ahem.

Disappointingly my Jehovah's Witnesses haven't been round to try to get me to cancel Christmas, disappointing because I enjoy my annual doorstep opportunity to pretend to be wildly enthusiastic about Paganism.

There's a fair amount of stupidity in the news at the moment; I hope to write about some of it over the holidays, although I fully intend to be too drunk to write for at least part of the time. (I feel that as it's a religious festival, offering up my liver to The Lord is probably the least I can do.)

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have called in and left comments, encouraging or otherwise, especially Libertybob, who has been a consistent supporter of my ranting since I started this back in March this year. Check his site out - sanity, humour and quite often dreadful poetry.

Merry Christmas.

Love (in a manly way of course)